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Blumenthal Voting No On Gorsuch In Time Of 'Looming Constitutional Crisis'

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announced Friday he will oppose the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Blumenthal said he will cast his "no" vote in committee Monday on the nomination.

The following is an op-ed written by Blumenthal on his decision to oppose the nominee from President Donald Trump, a vote that he called "one of the most important I will ever cast."

To the editor:

We vote in the midst of a looming constitutional crisis. Last week, the FBI director revealed his agency is investigating ties between President Donald Trump’s associates and Russian meddling in our election. The independence of our judicial branch has never been more threatened — or more important. The possibility of the Supreme Court needing to enforce a subpoena against the president is far from idle speculation.

Trump has launched a campaign of vicious and relentless attacks on the credibility of our judiciary. His demeaning and disparaging comments have attempted to shake the foundations of respect for judicial rulings — respect that is vital to holding the president accountable to the people and our Constitution.

Trump’s disrespect for the judiciary was demonstrated by how he selected his nominee. He promised a litmus test — a nominee who would “automatically” overturn Roe v. Wade, strike down gun violence prevention measures and be of a “conservative bent.” He outsourced the selection process to extreme right-wing groups like the Heritage Foundation, choosing from their approved list.

Against this backdrop, Judge Gorsuch has a special obligation to be forthcoming — not to prejudge the merits of a particular future case, but to share his core beliefs on longstanding, well-established legal precedents and demonstrate his commitment to an independent judiciary.

Instead he has evaded real answers at every turn. We must assume that Judge Gorsuch has passed the Trump litmus test — a pro-life, pro-gun, conservative judge. In question after question, Judge Gorsuch had an opportunity to distance himself from right-wing groups. His refusal to answer only deepens the doubt that he is not a neutral follower of the law — an umpire who just calls balls and strikes — but instead an acolyte of hard-right special interests.

When I asked about core, well-settled judicial precedent and principles, Judge Gorsuch dodged all but Brown v. Board of Education. He summarized the cases. He told us how old the opinions are. He reminded us that they are Supreme Court opinions. But he provided no affirmation that he agrees with these decisions or their constitutional tenets.

These issues are not hot-button controversies: They are core cases that stand for principles like the rights to privacy and equal treatment. A justice who fails to share these values is outside the mainstream — and a potential threat to the constitutional rights that protect the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans.

The Supreme Court is more than marble pillars and judicial robes. It is the embodiment of American justice — justice that has a human face and voice. Its decisions must ensure that the rule of law is preserved for real people, and that our Constitution continues to protect us from overreach and tyranny. That is why it is important that a nominee to the Supreme Court be approved by more than 60 votes, not a razor thin partisan majority. And that is why I will use the filibuster, if necessary, to oppose his nomination.

Today, we still know very little about Judge Gorsuch’s core beliefs. But here is what we do know: We know that the man who hired him has said he passes his right-wing litmus test. We know that conservative organizations have spent millions on the prospect that he will move American law dramatically to the right. And we know that he will not answer questions that his predecessors answered about core tenets of American jurisprudence. In short, he has left us with substantial doubt.

That doubt leaves women wondering how long they will have autonomy over their health care decisions, same-sex couples questioning whether they might be denied the right to marry the person they love, workers and consumers doubting their rights, and Americans fearing the court will abandon protections of privacy, equality and the rule of law. That doubt is why I cannot support this nomination, and why I will work to block it using every tool at my disposal.

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